The I-‘tea’-ology of Cinema

"Macha, vaa da oru tea saaptu varuvom

This is the one phrase that is used the most by Tamil Pasanga. Tea, unlike Coffee (which is usually used to symbolise class or romantic relationships), has always been a symbol of emotional or political ideologies. While we have Mani Ratnam or Gautham Menon movies to show the elite class of people having breezy conversations over a cup of coffee, there is also a flip side of the coin where a glass of tea represents the hardships of the lower class.

For instance, while on one hand 'Thala' Ajith Kumar is shown  getting to know his fiancee while having a nice cup of coffee at a well-decorated coffee shop in Yennai Arindhal, on the other hand is shown drinking a small glass of black tea in Veeram while recollecting the hardships he faced for his brothers since childhood. One movie which comes to our mind when we talk about tea is Bala's Paradesi. The film follows Rasa, a carefree village guy who is lured to work as a bond laborer in a tea plantation run by the British. It is a dark and disturbing take on the forgotten chapter of the pre-independence era about the exploitation of tea plantation laborers with no chance of homecoming. 

Another important film building its world around tea is Pariyerum Perumal. The movie, inspired by the ideologies of Ambedkar, starts with the statutory warning "Caste and Religion are against Humanity" and ends with two tea glasses and a tiny flower representing "All humans are one". The dominance of upper castes over the lower ones and how it still prevails in parts of our country is shown through the glasses in which tea is served to each person.

Tea shops have also been a representation of the unemployed  youth as well. Be it Kamal Haasan from Sathya, or Raghuvaran from Velai Illa Pattadhari, they've all been the 'Tea Kadai Rajas' and represented their status quo through Tea.

Similar to a famous Vadivel dialogue, "Tea kadai ah thee kadai aakitingale da", the amount of metaphors a glass of tea can bring onto the table is really interesting. So, if you guys feel heavy after reading this post, "Poyitu soodu ah oru tea adinga".

Written by,

- Chandrakanth G

1 comment
Satya Sagar Gatti September 25, 2020


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